When going to fly fish for the first time what flies should you take with you? This is a question I was asked frequently while working in the tackle shop and I think it is worth answering here.
Silver Invicta Trout Fly
Trout have many variations around the world and each has its own set of flies that work well. Checking with the local tackle dealer can produce a good selection of proven patterns that have been producing results.
It is always prudent to check with them from time to time to see if new patterns are working or variations in fishing style are producing results. I would always check in with the hut before putting a fly on the water where ever I go as local knowledge is supreme when getting yourself set up.
Tip: Check the fishing forums before setting off!
If however you are going somewhere away from the beaten path then some prep beforehand can be fruitful. Fishing forums can be a good place for advice. You can usually ask the question what patterns have proved successful on this water recently or last season around the same time and someone will more than likely have been there and can tell you how they got on.
Seasonal changes in insect life and trout habits!
Note: The following is descriptive of European Brown trout and Rainbow trout but may also prove effective for trout from other areas around the world.
There are four seasons as you are aware however these can be divided into segments of smaller size frames in respect to the hatch of insects taking place at that time. Although we are taking in seasons let’s be clear that insects don’t work to the same time line as you and me. It all depends on weather conditions as to the timing of a particular hatch. (more…)
Well, winter is now over and its time to get the tackle out from its winter hibernation for a good cleaning in preparation for the new trout fishing season.
There are a few things that should be done each spring to ensure you tackle is on tip top condition before going out on your first fishing trip.
- Check fly lines for cracks
- Clean reel and apply lubrication
- Wax rod furrels
- Re-new knots for the line connections
- Check rods for any cracks or chips.
- Inspect cork handle
- Check waders for leaks
- Check fly selection
- Inspect leader material
- Renew all licenses and permits
These are some of the main items that need sorting before a new season begins. Of these, I would suggest checking the fly line and rod as the most important.
Checking the fly line for cracks
When you put away your gear at the end of the previous season you would have probably left one or two fly lines still on their reels and depending on the place or storage there will no doubt be some coil memory left on the line from being stored so long in that position.
My suggestion to you before going to fish is you unspool the line onto a bucket of soapy water then after about half an hours soak slowly pull the line through a soft cloth squeezed in your other hand. While doing this check for any cracks or chips along the line and assess them for integrity.
If there are a lot then it would be better to purchase a new line than risk losing some trout to breakages. Working this process you will take any grime or dirt away as well as slowly get the line straight. Here is a couple of RIO products videos on how to do that and apply a dressing to the fly line to keep it fishing well for years. (more…)
The Fly Fishing Line is a lot thicker than traditional monofilament fishing line. To get your fly out into the water in an attractive gentle method takes practice and some skill.
These can be learned but the fly fishing line is critical to the cast, get it wrong and you may as well not bother fishing at all.
A bad cast will collapse and crash onto the water surface spooking any fish that are in the close proximity, this is not a good thing as once spooked it’s very hard to get them back.
There are many variations of fly line however the options we will be concerned with here are weight, density, taper and color. So let’s delve deeper and get fly fishing lines explained to us.
Fly Fishing Line Weight
AFTM or the Association of Fishing Tackle Manufacturers came up with a standard to measure all fly fishing tackle including the line ratings.
This scale means if you buy a seven weight line from any manufacturer it will fit any seven weight rod and reel from any other manufacturers…cool right! That being said there are always exceptions to the rule but we will not concern ourselves with this now.
The line rating is worked out on the first 10 yards of line or 30ft which is about what you would use to load the rod to make a cast on the old traditional lines.
Loading the rod means flex it enough to perform a cast. Your rod needs a certain amount of weight outside the tip ring to allow it to throw a line. As the line rating number gets higher the line weight gets higher and will require a larger stiffer rod to cast it properly.
As a beginner we have been working on the 9ft 5 AFTM rated setup.
Fly fishing reels explained will show you that the reel is more than a container for your fly line to keep it off the ground when playing a fish. Unlike conventional bait rods the line will have to be retrieved in by hand to entice the trout to take your fly and as this happens the line will be increasingly lying at your feet unless you are using a fly line tray.
This is not so bad when you are on a sandy beach or clay bank side but if there is a lot of undergrowth then the line will get caught up on the vegetation and when that trout of a lifetime decides to take your fly you don’t want to be trying to pull the line free to play it in. Many a prize trout was lost this way believe me.
The reel is therefore to reel up the line before you try to play the trout. This can be done with ease with a bit of practice as you hold the line tight to keep tension on the trout as you reel up the line with your other hand. This may sound difficult but it is not.
You can play a trout without reeling in first but this is only advisable when on a snag-free environment, even sitting in a boat is not the place as oars, bags, your partner can all get tangled up with your fly line very easily.
Once you have the line on the reel you can let the trout fight and take line and reel it back on with the knowledge that you are free to move in any direction it decides to go.
What is matching the hatch? If you are new to fly fishing you may be unaware of the insects that fish eat along the rivers and lakes. Each season of the year produces new species of insect that the trout have become used to and will feed upon when they are in season.
As new insects become available the older insects will die away. Trout that are a few years old will be savvy to the food available and so it becomes increasing difficult to entice them to take an artificial fly.
This is where matching the hatch techniques come into play as the angler needs to learn to get as close as he can to the natural insect life when presenting his fly.
So how do we go about matching the hatch?
First thing we do when approaching a fishing venue is to take a few minutes to scan the surroundings to see if there is anything naturally hatching. You need to check the grass beside the river the trees and if nothing is showing then check the insect life at the edge of the river or lake.
Be careful not to disturb the water too much as you will spook any close trout away and it may take some time for them to return and spoil your chances of success. When checking for the insects it is good to have a fine mesh net with you so you can catch some and get a closer look as flying insects can be very hard to imitate.
There are many fly fishing lines on the market today made by many different manufacturers. If you do a search on Google you will come up with hundreds if not thousands of lines. For a beginner, this is an overload of information and can lead to an incorrect purchase. Here we will consider the options available and show you how to choose a fly line suited to your needs.
If you have not already purchased a single handed trout fly fishing rod then you would need to consider that first as the line needs to match the rod and reel setup. In that instance, you can purchase a ready made kit from a reputable dealer which can include all the items required to start out.
These are all made to match and balance the setup and are ideal for someone on a low budget. However, if you can afford a little more I would recommend buying the items individually as you can still get bargains but items with more strength and options than in a basic kit.
The first important aspect is to match your line rating to the rod you have or are considering. Each rod now has a line rating stamped on the butt section usually above the cork handle on the first few inches of the rod itself.
This figure is put there by the rod manufacturer and is a guide as to which line the rod has been made to make it a balanced setup.
Over the past number of years I have done just about everything you can do to improve a day’s fly fishing. So I have compiled this list of do’s and don’ts of fly fishing that should make for a better trout fishing trip.
- Do not try to cast too far. A common mistake by many is trying to push the line out in great distances. This will make for a lot of tangles and bad casting. Keep it short and neat the trout will usually come to you if you don’t make too many splashes.
- Don’t use too heavy leader line for the flies you are fishing. I have seen guys put on 15lb mono to fish size 12 flies for trout. This is far too heavy much better to go for 4-5 lb line you will catch more fish. Gauge the trout size your after if they are big, 10lb plus then you may need to adjust but there is no need to fish 15lb leader if the average trout size is 2lb.
- Do bring a plastic bag for your catch if killed, there is nothing worse than the dead fish smell in the car on a long journey home. A simple plastic bag can make all the difference. They can also be used to put on your feet if you spring a leak or your head if a downpour threatens to drown you.
- Don’t be fooled into buying an expensive rod if you can’t afford it there are many cheaper rods that will cast just as far as the most expensive and catch as many fish. (more…)
When I was a young lad aged ten years old I was given my first fly rod for my birthday. I was so excited I had always wanted to learn to fly fish and now I had the chance. I took out all the pieces and put them together in the back garden very carefully and loaded the reel onto the rod. I made my way to the river that ran within a few hundred meters from our house with my dad. (more…)
How to make a fly fishing leader
When it comes to setting up your fly rod for fly fishing the last piece of the puzzle is how to make a fly fishing leader. As a beginner you will need to master this fairly well as you don’t want to lose caught fish due to poorly prepared leaders. Like all aspects of fly fishing it depends on the target species to what your leader will look like. As we have been on the process of learning how to trout fish we will stick to a leader for a 10ft rod of seven weight set up. How to make your own leaders for fly fishing and make them well will add to your enjoyment of the sport and get you out of difficult situations when you are having problems with your fly fishing leaders.
Generally speaking a trout leader setup is made from lighter material than the fly line. This is due to a couple of things, one we want to present our flies with a nice flutter down onto the water and not a splash and secondly we need to use something that the trout find hard to see.
You may wonder how effective a trout’s eyes really are. I can tell you they have very keen eyesight and can spot a small dark fly in the dead of night. When fishing for sea trout the darker the night the better and those trout could pick up your fly when it was difficult to see your hand in front of your face. So to try to counteract this we need to decide on line diameter and color.
How to Spool a Fly Reel in Steps.
Now that you have hopefully bought your rod, reel and line you will need to know how to set up your fly line and put it all together so you can go fly fishing.
Get Best Fly Fishing Reels Here
Fly fishing is a sport involving many skills, fly casting, river craft, entomology and knot tying among others. To be considered a proficient fly fishing angler you need to be able to be accomplish these with good precision. In this post we will walk through the task of setting up a fly rod so we can go fly fishing. (more…)
In the last post we discussed some of the physical attributes of fly lines. These included color, density and weight. Fly lines have a lot more going on than these including front taper, head, back taper, belly, and running line. These characteristics are mostly to do with the aerodynamics of the fly line how it handles in the the air when casting etc. Some of these characteristics also effect the handling when in the water for retrieval etc we will discuss these and look at what types of line to look for when fishing different locations and water types.
The fly line is made from one continuous piece of core line covered with different layers of polymers to create the different densities of line. These polymers are laid down to create a thickening of the line as it progresses from the tip until its thickest part then it tapers down again until the end of the line. The differences in these tapers have been developed to produce new types of fly line. (more…)
The SK4 large Arbor fly reel is a great quality product from Sonik Sports who test their equipment to breaking point. Lite, Strong and Precision made!
PRODUCT REVIEW: Sonik SK4 Large Arbor Fly Reel
MANUFACTURER: SONIK SPORTS
WHO WOULD BUY THIS: Any one who is looking to upgrade their fishing reel to a mid price ranged reel.
SCORE: 4 out of 5
The Sonik SK4 large arbor fly fishing reel is precision engineered from anodised light high grade aluminium and comes with its own neoprene case.
The SK3 large Arbor fly reel cartridge is a great quality product from Sonik Sports who test their equipment to breaking point. Lite, Strong and Precision made!
PRODUCT REVIEW: Sonik SK3 Cartridge Large Arbor Fly Reel
WHO WOULD BUY THIS: Any one who is looking for a complete setup range to cover a lot of situations. The interchangeable spools of the Sonik Sk3 cartridge large arbor fly reel allow for great versatility.
SCORE: 3.5 out of 5
The Sonik SK3 cartridge fly fishing reel is another nice addition to the Sonik range. The reel comes complete with 4 spare spools and a neoprene case perfect for carrying a complete setup for most situations. Pop a full floater on one spool, an intermediate on the second, a medium sinker on the third and a fast sinking fly line on the forth and you will have most things covered.
When I first started fly fishing all those years ago there was no such thing as barbless hooks for trout fishing, well not that I noticed anyway. Most of your catches were kept back then however as time has progressed things have changed.
It is now more the norm to release your catch back into the ecosystem you caught it so future anglers will hopefully have the pleasure of partaking in the sport. The only thing that wasn’t kept back thirty years ago was the small under sized fish that were deemed by the fishing agencies to be returned.
When I think about it, some of the small trout I caught back then went back bleeding and probably swam off to die. Well I was only starting out back then and didn’t know anything about barbless trout flies. All the flies I tied were on fully barbed hooks as this was the norm. So my question is; barbless hooks are they good for fly fishing? Let discuss to see the differences.
Many tackle changes over the last thirty years!
Fly fishing in general has under gone many changes over the last thirty years. Tackle improves every year. Fly rods are much stronger and lighter, same with fly fishing reels. Fly lines are now made with poly-coated layers with braided cores and the terminal tackle, the flies, are now made with chemically sharpened points hooks. To top this off barbless trout flies now are more common.
The barb when first conceived was to hold the fish in place so it could not fall off the hook and escape. This was very important back when things got started as fishing was more of a necessity for feeding the family than a sport as it is today. (more…)
PRODUCT REVIEW: Fly Fishing Unleashed
WHO WOULD BUY THIS: Any beginners who are new to fly fishing or looking to learn how to fly fish.
There is one thing that you need to master when it comes to fly fishing and that is how to tie fishing knots. It doesn’t make a difference if you have the best rod, reel and line along with the best selection of flies if your gear is not tied together with good quality fishing knots.
Hundreds of knots but which do I use?
If you do some research into fishing knots you will find there are hundreds to choose from but in my opinion this has come about from guys with nothing better to do but try new ways to join line together. Don’t get me wrong, there has been some nice innovation when it comes to knots and some are worth considering, but I feel to be competent at fly fishing, you really only need a handful.
When a newbie comes to me to learn how to trout fish one of the first lessons I show them is how to tie fishing knots. Then tell them to go away and practice, practice and practice some more so they can nearly tie them blindfolded. (more…)
While fishing especially fly fishing it is always a good idea to wade in the water. This does come with the responsibility to check if the water is wadeable, for instance the bottom is within reach and not too rocky to make it dangerous. If the conditions are safe then wading does a number of things to help with your fly fishing and in this post we will discuss the benefits of breathable chest waders as well as other types of waders.
So why do we need waders anyway?
When fly fishing there are numerous hazards on the banking when casting therefore entering the water gives the angler the ability to avoid these. Waders will allow you to follow the river downstream through a pool or beat without having to move around trees or other hazards which takes time and can affect your catch rates.
The other benefit is that while fly fishing you need to cover trout to induce a take. Wading allows you to move about to cover these trout better especially in rivers where
wading out into the middle of the river will allow the fly to swim around in the current and sit on the dangle better for trout sitting mid stream.
The dangle is when the cast has completely swum around in the current to its holding position before the retrieve. This is only relevant in rivers because in still waters the cast will be straight out where you placed it and will not move very much.
Some people think wading will disturb trout and this is true if you are like a bull in the china shop but if you are careful and move stealthily trout will pass by very close to you. I have on many occasions been soaked by a trout that has jumped feet from me when I was in stealth mode. (more…)
Fly fishing anglers around the world will be getting ready today to go out onto the water. It may be that they are going to their favorite river, lake or lough, or some may be going to the sea to fish for salt water species.
Regardless of venue they all have one thing in common, they are going to try to catch fish. Most of these men and women will be successful in their quests and bring home food for the table but not everyone. It is these guys and girls I want to discuss here as I show you that there is more to fishing than catching fish! (more…)
Before we consider what is the best fluorocarbon fishing line let us discuss the properties and characteristics of this leader material.
When it comes to fly fishing the introduction of fluorocarbon may be one of the most outstanding developments since the creation of fly fishing itself. I joke, but it really has made a large difference to fly fishing catch rates and fun to be had by anglers of all ages and skill level.
Fluorocarbon has many properties but the one that makes it ideal for fishing is that light refracts through it the same way as water and so the fish (or so it is believed) can’t see it. This is especially evident in still water fisheries as trout are usually leader shy and will move away from traditional mono filament lines. This is were the fluorocarbon has helped get extra takes.
In river fishing especially fast water the light passing through it is refracted and distorted in numerous was and the trout can’t see you or the line as easily as in calm still water so it is not that important but the other benefits make it ideal in these conditions also.
A tendency to be brittle!
Some fluorocarbon lines are very brittle but his can be compensated by getting the diameter that is correct for your type of fishing. There are many brands and breaking strains so it may be a bit of testing to see what is ideally suited but we will discuss that later.
Fluorocarbon is usually a lot stiffer than mono and is great for turnover on casts which helps in reduction of wind knots, tangles and bad casting. This makes it good for a beginner who is trying to learn and also very good on weighted flies that have a tenancy to drop on the forward cast and catch the loop.
When starting out in fly fishing finding good quality fly fishing tackle can be difficult. However, it really is all down to how much you want to spend on the tackle as your hobby can grow into a monster if your not careful. That’s not a problem if you have the financial backing to cover this but if you are working on a basic living then stretching your self too much can be silly.
What is the most important piece of equipment?
Of all of the items for fishing I would generally spend the most on the rod and line as the fly fishing reel is just a container and hence not that important. However with all things in life if you spend a bit more you will get extra features and be able to fish a little bit more comfortably than with a basic setup.
What do I mean then? Well as you go up the price bracket the materials to make the reels can become very expensive as all sorts of alloys are being used. These are stronger and usually lighter than the basic reels. When fishing all day it can become very tiring with a heavy rod and reel and will end your day sooner.
So it all comes down to this really…… spend as much as you can possibly afford without over stretching. That way you will get the best you possibly can. As a newbie fly fishing angler you will probably want to aim for something between $80-$150, this should get a reasonable reel for your hard earned cash. There are lots of cheaper ones between $30-$50 but they are not really built to last and as mentioned can be fairly heavy.